Sunday, November 11, 2012

Thanksgiving Book Suggestions

Authors Note:  I originally published a Thanksgiving book list in 2011.  I wanted to republish this list updated with some new jewels that I have discovered.  My wish is that these books will help create some wonderful memories this holiday season, and remind us all to slow down and be thankful for all that we have.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.  For me the holiday is extra special, because it was around this time five years ago that I first became a mother.  So I have an added reason to be thankful this time of year.  I also enjoy a reminder to slow down and really savor all that I have to be grateful for.  For me this time of year means crisp, fall days; sweaters; pumpkin pie; and time spent gathered with loved ones.  It doesn't get much better than that.

To help us all get in the mood for Thanksgiving, I recently filled our book basket with some of our favorite picture books for this holiday.  I don't know of a better way to celebrate the holiday season than time spent snuggled up with your children sharing a good book.  It is a surefire way to create some cherished holiday memories for both parent and child.   So--to get you in the mood for Thanksgiving, here are some great books on the topic that you can share with your children.  Some are historical fiction, others celebrate our modern day version of the holiday, and some of just silly and fun--But they are all great books and worth a read!

I hope that you will take time out to make these stories a traditon in your family too! 

The Attached Mama's Thanksgiving Book List:

The Thanksgiving Door by Debby Atwell
This book is a new discovery for me, and I absolutely CAN NOT recommend it enough.  This book is about an older couple living alone named Ed and Ann.  In the book, Ann is making a delicious Thanksgiving feast but then.....poor Ann burns the dinner!   Ann feels just plain awful and decides to just spend Thanksgiving home alone, but Ed is hungry!  So he suggest that they go and try to find a restaurant that is open.  The only restaurant that they can find that is open is "The New World Cafe" a restaurant run by immigrants.  So they enter the restaurant and have a seat in the deserted dining room.  Little do they know, the owners of the restaurant left the door unlocked by accident.  They were planning their own Thanksgiving celebration.  They weren't planning to entertain customers too!  The restaurant owners try to chase the customers away by banging pots and pans at them.   However, the wise grandmother stops them: "Enough!  In old country we bang pots at woves, not hungry people.  Today is Thanksgiving Day.  Family cooks turkey big as doghouse, but we don't share?  Bah!"  So the restaurant owners include Ann and Ed in their celebration.  There is conversation, laughter, and even dancing at the celebration.  In the end, Ann agrees that burning the Thanksgiving dinner was the best thing she ever did!  This book reminds us that despite our cultural differences we are all people with much more in common than we think!  A great read!

The Memory Cupboard:  A Thanksgiving Story by Charlotte Herman
For young Katie, nothing compares to Thanksgiving at Grandma's house.  However, Katie is heartbroken when she breaks Grandma's cherished gravy boat at Thanksgiving dinner.   It is then, that Grandma shows Katie her special "memory cupboard".   This is an excellent book that teaches although we may grow attached to possessions, it is people who really matter.

Squanto's Journey:  The Story of the First Thanksgiving by Joseph Bruchac
Most children know the story of the pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving.  However, many are not familar with the story of Squanto--arguably the true hero of Thanksgiving.  In this book, children will learn the remarkable story of the first Thanksgiving from the Native American point of view.

Three Young Pilgrims by Cheryl Harness
This is another living history book that I highly recommend.   It is the story of three young pilgrims named Bartholemew, Remember, and Mary Allerton.  When they and their parents first step down from the Mayflower after sixty days at sea, they never dream that life in the New World will be so hard. Many in their Plymouth colony won't make it through the winter, and the colony's first harvest is possible only with the help of two friends, Samoset and Squanto.

This is the Turkey by Abby Levin, Illustrated by Paige Billin-Frye
Here's a cute book that I would recommend for younger children just learning what Thanksgiving is all about.   The story begins with Max picking out a turkey at the grocery store.  It goes on to celebrate all that thanksgiving has to offer:  The food, the family, the preparation, and time spent with family.  This book also reminds us that our holidays don't always have to be perfect to be wonderful!

The Very First Thanksgiving Day by Rhonda Gowler Green, Paintings by Susan Baber
Written in cumulative rhyme, this beautifully illustrated book tells the story of the first Thanksgiving.  The repetitive text is fantastic for children learning to read as it gives them a chance to help tell the story.  What makes this book unique is the way that the story is told.  The book starts out showing the very first Thanksgiving feast, and slowly backtracks to tell the story of the Pilgrim's first year in America.

Cranberry Thanksgiving by Wende and Harry Devlin
This book tells the story of a traditional New England Thanksgiving on a cranberry farm.  The book is a great reminder that we can't always judge 'a book by its cover' and that sometimes appearances may deceive.  Children will enjoy looking for Grandmother's secret and famous recipe for Cranberry Bread which is hidden in the book.  Baking this bread will become a wonderful new tradition for you and your family.

It's Thanksgiving by Jack Prelutsky, Illustrated by Marylin Hafner
We love reading poetry together as a family.  And after checking this book out of the library, I just knew that it would someday become a permanent member of our home library.  This collection of poetry talks about so many different aspects of this holiday--usually in a very humorous way.    This book contains poems about the very first Thanksgiving,  a funny poem about "Dad's football game" after the big meal, a poem about the Thanksgiving Day parade (where it is drizzling...isn't it always drizzling during the Thanksgiving Day parade?!),  and another very humorous poem about the things we do with all of those turkey leftovers.
Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving by Eric Metaxas
"Every once in a great while, the hand of God is easy to see, and for a brief moment, fairy tales and history are the same thing.  This is the story about one of those times."  So begins this wonderful account of Squanto's miraculous story.  As a young boy, he was captured, taken to Europe against his will, and sold into slavery.  However, that is not the end of Squanto's story.  Remarkably, he finds his way back across the Atlantic to the land he was born in.  And remarkably, he finds it into his heart to take pity on the English living on his land who he helps. 

Thanks for Thanksgiving by Julie Markes, Illustrated by Doris Barrette
This is a another great book for very young children and toddlers.  The pictures are charming and inviting, the text is simple, but the message is a good one. 

This is the Feast by Diane Z. Shore, Illustrated by Megan Lloyd
This book is written in a lyrical verse which makes it a joy to read aloud to children.  The illustration are meticulous and breathtaking.   Children will really get a sense of what life on the Mayflower might have been like. 

The Pilgrim Cat by Carol Antoinette Peacock, Illustrated by Doris Ettlinger
This was another book that we checked out and knew that we would one day have to buy.  My little girl actually cried when it came time to return this to the library!   That is how much she loved this book.  And I enjoyed reading it as much as my children enjoyed hearing it.  The book is a historical fiction which follows a cat who jumps aboard the Mayflower as it is departing England.  The cat is befriended by a young girl named Faith.  The book is richly illustrated and a pleasure to read.  The reader really gets a feel for what life might have been like for a child aboard the mayflower.

The First Thanksgiving by Jean Craighead George
This is a beautifully illustrated "living history" book for children written and carefully researched by Newberry Medal recipient Jean Craighead George.   This is a story of adventure, humanity, and compassion....this is the story of the very first thanksgiving day. 

This is just a small list of the many fantastic books available on this holiday.   My hope is that this list will help get you started on building your own Thanksgiving book basket.

Thanks for reading!

Links I'm Attached To:


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Pumpkin Book Suggestions

Headed to the pumpkin patch this year?  Why not fill your book baskets with some great pumpkin themed books this year!  There is just something about the cooler weather that makes me want to snuggle on the couch reading a great book to my children.  I hope that this short list of books helps inspire you to create some warm memories with literature.  
The Pumpkin Patch Parable by Liz Curtis Higgs-  This is the story about how a farmer can turn a simple pumpkin into a glorious sight. In the same way, God's transforming love can fill each of our hearts with joy and light.
 After reading this book, head on over to one of my favorite blogs "My Montessori Journey" for a great go along project to do with your child.   The project is called, "Let Your Love Light Shine".  Just like a candle can light up a pumpkin, we can let our light shine from us.   Also check out "Totally Tots" crafts to go along with this book. 

Mousekin's Golden House by Edna Miller-  This book is out of print, but many libraries still have a copy.   In this book a mouse discovers a great new home when he finds an abandoned pumpkin in the forest.

Pumpkin Moonshine by Tasha Tudor - This book is by one of my favorite author/illustrators Tasha Tudor.  It is a very charming, old fashioned Halloween story that is sure to become a favorite.  The story is simple, yet delightful.  In the book, Sylvie Ann wants to carve a wonderful "pumpkin moonshine" (that is what they used to call jack o'lanterns way back when in New England)--but she has to get her pumpkin home first!  Gorgeous illustrations!

From Seed to Pumpkin by Wendy Pfeffer- A great science book to tie in with a pumpkin book basket theme.

Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White- One lady ends up with WAY too many pumpkins.  Very cute story!

It's Pumpkin Time by Zoe Hall- This book features some lovely illustrations.  It is a favorite with very young children!

How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin? by Margaret McNamara-  This is a great "living math" book to read this time of year.  Children can explore concepts such as estimation, skip counting, and other strategies for determining how many seeds are in a pumpkin.  This would be a great book to read together before you actually carve a pumpkin so you can put some of these strategies into action.

Pumpkin Jack by Will Hubbell-  This is a very cute story which does a great job demonstrating the life cycle of a pumpkin.  In this story, a boy name Tim carves his first pumpkin and names him "Jack".  After Halloween, "Jack" is put in the garden where he slowly decays.  The story follows Jack until Spring time comes and we find "Jack" has sprouted a whole crop of pumpkins!    Children may want to do their own "Pumpkin Jack" science experiment after reading this book by placing their fall pumpkins in the garden instead of the trash.

The Biggest Pumpkin Ever by Steven Kroll- Two mice fall in love with the SAME pumpkin...What will they do?  This is a very cute story which illustrates the joy of sharing and giving.   This is a slightly longer picture book which might appeal to children in grades kindergarten to grade 3.

Pumpkin Pumpkin by Jeanne Titherington-  A great book for young children!  This book has gorgeous illustrations and describes the process of a seed growing into a pumpkin.

Pumpkin Soup by Helen Cooper -  "Deep in the woods in an old white cabin, three friends make their pumpkin soup the same way every day. The Cat slices up the pumpkin, the Squirrel stirs in the water, and the Duck tips in just enough salt."   This is a great story about friendship and working through squabbles.  The illustrations are warm and inviting...and there is even a recipe for pumpkin soup at the end.   I suggest reading this book and inviting the kids to help you in the kitchen afterwards! 

Pumpkin Cat by Anne Mortimer - A very cute story about gardening and working together.  This is a simple story, but a great story for teaching preschoolers and toddlers about where pumpkins come from. 

Thanks for reading!  

Cathy aka The Attached Mama

Links to Become Attached To:
-The Children's Book Shelf
-What my Child is Reading
-A Thanksgiving Book List (Thanksgiving will be here before you know it!)
-My October Pinterest Board (Some crafts to do along with these books.)
Monday, August 27, 2012

Sonlight Blog Roll for 2012-2013

It's here:  The much anticipated Sonlight Blog Roll for the 2012-2013 school year!

This blog roll will give fellow "Sonlight-ers" a place to connect and meet.  Feel free to bookmark this page and refer to it anytime you need some inspiration. 

Are you a blogger using Sonlight for the 2012-3013 school year? 
If so, we would love it if you would join the Sonlight Blog Roll. 

Here's how to do it:
STEP 1)  First grab the button code below and display it proudly on your blog.  All entries must have a link to this blog roll.  This is so we can get the word out about the Sonlight Blog Roll. 
STEP 2)   Next, use the Linky Tool at the bottom of this page to link up your blog.  There is absolutely no weekly posting requirement--just link up and have fun.
NOTE:  Please include your blog's name with the core(s) you are using in parenthesis.  Example:  The Attached Mama (Cores P3/4, B, and F)
STEP 3)  Leave a comment on my blog letting me know you linked up. 

Grab The Button Code Here:

Do you still have questions?  Please feel free to contact me in the comment section below.  I would be glad to help!

Thanks so much!
Cathy aka The Attached Mama

My blog and the blogs linked to this page are not affiliated with the Sonlight Curriculum company in any way.  We are just fans and users of the curriculum.  :) 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Sonlight Language Arts: Picture Book Narration

This week we started Sonlight's Kindergarten Language Arts program with both Marcus and Sophie.   If you have ever checked out Sonlight's language arts programs in the past, you might want to check them out again.  They have recently completely revised and updated their programs.  The changes are major...and I personally think the changes are for the better.

Sonlight's Language Arts K with Readers Package
Even though both kids are at slightly different levels in reading and writing, their skill levels are close enough that I am able to combine them with only some slight modifications to the program.     (Not to mention...Sophie tends to get very upset if she is not included in what Marcus is learning!  So it is just easier on everyone to let them work together.)

Handwriting Without Tears Package
The reading portion of Sonlight's language arts package is right on target for Sophie.  However, she still lacks the fine motor control to write "small enough" for the kindergarten level paper used in the Handwriting Without Tears package.  She has also already completed the Handwriting Without Tears Pre-K she is kind of in handwriting limbo at the moment.   (Handwriting without tears has a "strange" name...but it is one of the best handwriting programs out there in my oppinion!)   So-- an easy modification we made was to let her practice writing her lower case letters on the double-line slate instead of the workbook.   

Marcus, on the other hand,  is a bit ahead of this program when it comes to reading.  However, I think that the extra practice in phonics will only help cement the ideas for him.  It will also give him some confidence when it comes to reading.  Every now and then,  we are allowing him to practice reading some other beginner readers.  He also enjoys playing Reading Eggs online.  (I'm not much for screen based learning...but I find that this game provides invaluable, fun practice which is helping him build reading fluency.  So he doesn't have to "sound out" every word that he sees on the page.)

The thing I really like about Sonlight the most is their "creative expression" assignments.  The purpose of the creative expression assignments is " help your children learn to enjoy expressing their thoughts, as well as to get a good feel for the flow of a story."  Basically the assignments give children a chance to practice verbally expressing their thoughts effectively.  In most of these assignments, the parent acts as the scribe and the child tells the parent what to write.  I think that learning to TELL a story is a very important step in learning to effectively WRITE a story.  I think that many language arts programs tend to forget this.  We can easily get so caught up in the mechanics of language:  handwriting, reading, grammar, etc. etc---that we forget to spend time on the thought process that goes into communicating our thoughts in writing.

Today's "Creative Expression" assignment was a picture book narration.  In this assignment, the children were to retell a favorite story while using one of their favorite pictures books as a guide.  I allowed the kids to chose any book on our bookshelves to retell...and they BOTH picked the book Kat Kong by Dav Pilkey to narrate.  

NOW---some of my readers might argue that Kat Kong is simply twaddle.  :)  HOWEVER-- the kids and I both enjoy reading this book.  No, it isn't Beautix Potter...but it is a funny book that is rather well written.  As you can probably guess, the book is a cleaver play on the old "King Kong" movies--this time staring a chubby feline who wreaks havoc on a group of mice.   Marcus and Sophie both narrated this book to my while I typed in their work into the computer.

It was an interesting experiment having two separate kids narrate the same book to me.  I did this individually so that each would have a chance to really recall the details they remembered from the story on their own.  I was impressed with how much detail both kids remembered from the book.  Marcus, in particular has a mind like a steel trap!  You read him something once, and he just remembers it.  He easily recalled large portions of the text almost verbatim as he "retold" the story.  (I don't think he quite understands the concept of using his own words to tell a story.)   I was also impressed with some of the vocabulary he used to tell the story.  Both kids attempted to use dialog to retell the story.  I was pleasantly surprised that both kids automatically knew to add words indicating WHO was saying the dialog during their narration without prompting from me.   (Example from Sophie's narration:  “There is no way Kat Kong can escape.  I repeat back there is no way Kat Kong can escape, “ said Vincent Varmint.)     However, in some cases, Sophie separated the dialog by doing different voices for the characters.  (It was pretty cute!  I wish I would have thought to video tape it.)   Both kids had some typical age appropriate grammatical errors...which were also pretty darling.  (Example:  Marcus still refers to a group of mice by calling them "mouses".)    All in all, I was very pleased with the outcome of this assignment.  I think at the very least,  these assignments will make a VERY nice keep sake for me hold on.  

SO---without further is each child's Kat Kong Picture narration with me acting as scribe.  


Picture Book Narration
Marcus Holmes
Age 5.5
Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Kat Kong by Dav Pilkey Naration

Dr. Varmint and Rosie Rodent and Captain Charles Limburger approach a strange island.  The ship approaches the island and then some mouses make a weird chant.  They say, “Here Kitty, Kitty, Here Kitty, Kitty, Kitty!”

Suddenly, there is a CRASHING in the island:  Kat Kong, the most terrifying creature to mouse-kind!  Suddenly the terrifying creature trips over their tuna and then falls down. 

“Lets take the creature back with us,” said Vincent Varmint. 
“Oh no, it would be bad to take him back from his natural habitat.” said Rosie Rodent.
“Forget about science,” said Doctor Varmint.  “Think of the money we could get.”

They tie him up in a bag and they be careful not to let him out of the bag. 

“This is Kat Kong the most terrifying creature to mouse-kind!” 
The mouses hurled back being afraid. 
“I repeat people this cat can not escape from these chains.  This cat can not escape from these chains.  OH!  I guess I could be wrong.”

Suddenly, the terrifying Kat Kong jumps out and escapes from the chains. 

“Help!  That cat's got my train!”
“Help!  That cat's got my tongue!”
“Help!  That cat’s got me!”

Suddenly the terrifying Kat Kong climbs up with Rosie Rodent following behind. 

“I think I shouldn’t have got so near,” said Rosie Rodent. 

It feels like nothing could stop the terrifying Kat Kong! 

Suddenly a helicopter soars through the air.  And then,  “Hey cat, can you guess what’s in this package?”

The mouse flew over.  And the cat’s mind was thinking and thinking and thinking and growing higher when at last he could not think any longer.  And with a swift paw, he swiped for the package.  And then he lost his balance and FELL down.  Everyone came to get a look at the terrifying Kat Kong. 

“Well, it looks like love killed the beast.” Said the police officer buster. 
“No,” said Dr. Varmint.  “Curiosity killed the beast.” 



Picture Book Narration
Sophie Holmes
Age 4
Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Kat Kong by Dav Pilkey

Three mice were in a boat.  The mice went to that cave. 

The mice found tuna.  Then Kat Kong came.  The mice ran. 

Kat Kong slipped.  The mice took Kat Kong and put him in a sack. 

The mouse took Kat Kong and put him in metal.

“There is no way Kat Kong can escape.  I repeat back there is no way Kat Kong can escape, “ said Vincent Varmint.   And Kat Kong escaped and…

“AAAHHHH!  Kat Kong got my train!”

“AAAAHHHH!  Kat Kong got me!”

The mice got their airplanes and tried to defeat him.  Vincent Varmint came. 
“You won’t guess what’s in this box.” 

Then Kat Kong swooped his paw and lost his balance. 

Then he fell and rocks came out. 

“Curiosity killed the cat.”

The End

A group of "native mice" offering up a can of sacrificial tuna to Kat Kong

Are you thinking of ordering from Sonlight?
If so, new customers can save $5 on your order of $50 or more.  Just enter my rewards number upon registering (CH20271164).  

Friday, July 6, 2012

Why yes---that IS a view master skirt I am wearing today...

Wanna know just one of the great things about not working in a cubical anymore?  I can pretty much wear any bizarre thing I feel like.  For some stay at home moms that translates to comfy yoga pants and t-shirts.  For me, that freedom translates to strange things I sew using wild fabrics---and now---I present to you my latest creation...a view master skirt. read that correctly....a view master skirt.  And that is what I am wearing today.
Photography by 5 year old Marcus using the camera phone...hence the reason I don't have a head and I am running to scoop up my 4 year old daughter.  :)
For those that don't know, in a former life before kids, I used to work as an engineer for a large corporation.  My co-workers were mostly all male, so my work attire basically consisted mostly of boring chino pants and golf shirts.  Yep--that what I wore most days.  As the saying goes--- when in Rome, you do as the Romans do...right?
Photography by 4 year old Sophie using a camera phone
I have noticed that since leaving my job, my clothing has become increasingly more eccentric.  I didn't set out to become just sort of happened.   And I think that this skirt pretty much takes the cake as far as eccentricity goes.  But what can I say?  It makes me happy---so I love it!

Photography by 4 year old Sophie using...yep...the camera phone!
When I first saw this fabric in the store, I immediately flashed back to my happy days of playing with view master reels as a child.  I can remember struggling to set the reel in straight so that I could look at happy little 3D smurfs smiling back at me...or rainbow bright riding a unicorn...or whatever I happened to be into at 3 years of age.  So I contemplated....what can I do with view master fabric?  Hmmm...  A more sane, less eccentric person would have sewn a wallet or a bag or something like that.  Me?  Well, I think to myself, "I want a view master skirt!"  And so I sewed one.

The fabric is from Kokka's fabric.  (Aren't all cool fabrics from Japanese companies?)  It is designed by Melody Miller and part of her line called Ruby Star Rising.  The pattern is my own.  Just a simple A-Line skirt with a waistband, side zipper, and button tab closure.  You can also see my hidden "stealth" patch pocket in this picture for keeping rocks, sticks, Lego mini-figures, and other strange things my kids ask my to carry.
Self Portrait using my trusty camera phone
All of these pictures were taken using my VERY crummy camera phone.  Most bloggers use fancy cameras and take photography classes and things like that.  But they probably wouldn't wear view master skirts.  So on this blog, you must look at blurry pictures taken mostly by children under the age of 5.  I guess it forces you to kind of use your imagination.  :)

Take care!  And thanks for reading!!

Cathy aka The Attached Mama

Links to become "Attached" To:
Thrifty Handmade Days
504 Main
Happy Hour Projects

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Homemade Laundry Detergent for High Efficency (HE) Machines

I have grated the tiny bars of soap.  I have mixed giant vats of liquid goop detergent.  I have even used my pans on the stove to cook (yes cook) soap on my stove.   In short readers, I have put in the time and trial and error to test some of the most popular homemade laundry detergent/soap recipes around.  And I present to you what I consider to be the BEST...yes THE BEST homemade laundry soap recipe ever.  I would love if you would try it out and let me know what you think.  

But before I go into all of the details, you may be wondering WHY someone would go to all of the hassle of making their own laundry detergent.

There are many, many reasons...but here are just a few:
1)  Making your own detergent is a very easy way to go green.
Most commercial laundry detergents contain phosphates and other ingredients which are harmful to both you and the environment.   According to the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, the average family does 416-520 loads of laundry per year!  Think for just a second how much water and energy is used up in this country just through trying to clean our clothes.  Seconldy, think about where all of that water is going after it cleans your clothes.  Simply switching to a more natural detergent could have a huge impact on the environment....and trust me it is an easy change.  (Even I can do it and I am lazy!)
Also, think about how many empty containers you are throwing away each time you run out of laundry detergent.  Even if you recycle those containers, think about the energy that is used in that process. 

2)  Making your own laundry detergent and other cleaning supplies can save you a boat load of money.
We have a high efficiency washer and so every month or so we were spending a TON of money buying Tides HE detergent.   (It really is expensive!) This recipe uses a lot of low foaming ingredients so it is perfect for HE machines.  Also, you are not having to pay for all of the packaging and marketing that goes into a conventional detergent.  And I promise you, the cleaning power of this detergent is fantastic.  I have very young children.  We get really dirty.  (Seriously...look at my blog pictures)  And this detergent has been able to clean just as well if not better than our standard Tide HE detergent.

And even if you don't have a HE washer machine, you have to admit that laundry detergent is not cheap.  At least not compared to how cheap this recipe is.  Using this recipe, you can make an entire years worth of laundry detergent for less than $5.  (Prices vary depending on costs in your area...but I know it will be much cheaper than the pre-packaged stuff you are buying now.)

3)   When you make your own supplies, you don't have to keep running to the store to pick up more detergent (or windex or "scrubbing bubbles" or any of that stuff!)  ---And that is kind of freeing and cool. 
See the thing that hangs most people up about making your own cleaning products is the discipline it takes.  No matter how easy the recipe is,  making something from scratch does take more time than simply opening up a container of commercial product.  So the thing that would always throw me off track would be I would a) run out of detergent and then b) be having "one of those days" where the last thing I wanted to do was MAKE laundry detergent.  So I would always end up running to the store to pick up a commercial product.  However, with this recipe, you only have to spend a couple of minutes one afternoon making it, and then you have a WHOLE years worth of detergent.  (If you have an HE machine, you will actually have much, much more than a whole years worth!)  This is also a powdered detergent.  So, unlike the other homemade liquid forms of laundry detergent (which can sometimes get moldy)--this one will last indefinitely.  

4)   Using recipes like this is an easy way to give your cleaning supplies a makeover--Simplify! Simplify!  Simplify!
Do you open up your cleaning supply cabinet to see a ton of different bottles and boxes?  Do you have a bottle for glass cleaner?  Another bottle of stuff for cleaning the toilet?  Another for the counter tops?  Another for the stove?   In fact, do you have an entire cabinet full of boxes and bottles claiming to be the 'next best thing' when it comes to cleaning.   Chances are that your grandmother (or maybe great grandmother depending on your generation) didn't need to have 50 million bottles and boxes of stuff to get her house clean.  She probably relied on a few basic essentials such as vinegar and baking soda to get her whole house clean.  So if women have been keeping their house clean and tidy for years with those things....why of why do we spend hundreds of dollars buying all of those boxes and bottles of cleaning supplies?  The answer is marketing.  We all fall victim to it.  (At least I do!)  But the truth of the matter is that these simple ingredients used in previous generations still work just as well for cleaning and cost a fraction of the price.  Most of them are also better for the environment.

5)  Making your own cleaning supplies allows you to customize your scents and blends.
One of the unexpected benefits to making my own cleaning supplies is that I have enjoyed experimenting with essential oils.  I can choose exactly what "smells" I want my own special blend of cleaning supplies to have.  And to be honest, it makes cleaning a whole lot more enjoyable!  Instead of breathing in those toxic fumes like I was before, I am now smelling a faint and lovely "lemon verbena" smell as I wipe down my counter tops.  Or--perhaps I might have "lavender vanilla" sheets to sleep on at night.  I can even change my scents with the seasons.  Last autumn, I made a lovely general purpose cleaner and scented it with Sweet Orange, Cinnamon, Clover, and Ginger essential oils.  It made deep cleaning in the fall an almost enjoyable experience.  Almost. :)   At least it was better than the noxious, over powering smell most commercial cleaners have!

So those are just a FEW of the reasons you may want to consider making your own laundry soap and cleansers.

Making your own Laundry Detergent:
Now, when you start experimenting with making your own laundry soap, you will basically have two different choices:  liquid or powder form soap.   I typically bought commercial liquid detergent when I went to the the first recipe I tried was for a homemade liquid detergent.  The liquid detergent cleaned just fine...but it sort of had a strange consistency which kind of freaked me out.  (Its difficult to describe in words, but if you have ever made it yourself, you will know what I am talking about.)   I have also read reviews online of mold even growing on liquid detergent if it was stored for long periods of time.  That wasn't going to work for me.  I wanted a recipe that was easy to make and that would last indefinitely so I didn't have to keep making it over and over again.  So I ruled the liquid version out.

The next several versions I tried were for powdered laundry soap.  All of the powdered laundry soap recipes out there basically involve some ratio of the following ingredients:
1)  Borax
2)  Soap Flakes or Grated Soap
3)  Baking Soda
4)  Washing Soada
5)  Oxi Clean

I test several of these recipes out.  But the BEST recipe by far was in the book Clean Naturally by Sandy Maine.   Ms. Mains book is a great read.  She is an authority in soap making, so it didn't surprise me that her cleaning supplies worked so well.  However, the thing I enjoyed most about her book is her overall philosophy about cleaning and life in general.

This recipe seems to work fantastically in both hard and soft water.  This recipe also doesn't have any of the more expensive or hard to find ingredients (such as washing soda and oxi clean).  It smells great.  It is low foaming.  It is gentle enough for our clothes, yet tough on stains.   So the recipe that I use today is a sort of modified version of Ms. Sandy Maine's.
So---Now...without further is my FAVORITE laundry soap recipe.  (Perfect for regular or High Efficiency Machines).

Simple Washing Powder Recipe
16 cups of baking soda
12 cups of borax*
8 cupts of grated soap**
3 tbsp of your favorite essential oils (optional)

* BORAX Note:  You will typically find borax in the laundry detergent aisle of most any grocery store of home goods store.  (I know that Meijer's, Walmart, Kroger's, and Giant Eagle all carry it.  If you are from another part of the country, please feel free to use the store locator on their website to find it.)

**SOAP Note:
--IF you are making your own laundry soap for environmental reasons, it is best to use a grated castile or glycerine soap.  You can buy these soaps at locally at a health food store or online.
--IF you are making your own laundry soap as a means of saving money, I have found that a regular bar of grated soap works just as fine.  HOWEVER (and this is important) you want to buy the most plain and simple bar of soap that you can find.  Anything that looks like it would be good for your skin will be bad or your laundry.  You want to avoid anything with added moisturizers or aloe as they often leave a film on your clothes or laundry machine.  I have found that the brands Ivory and Feliz Napa works best.

1)  Grind or grate your soap. can grate the soap using a cheese grater.  But I have found that  Ivory soap grates VERY will in a food processor.  Cut the soap up into small 1" cubes.  (Ivory soap is very soft and easy to cut.)  Then place it in your food processor one bar at a time and grind it up.  Wash your food processor well after doing this.  ;)
2)  Mix the grated soap, baking soda, and borax into a large air tight container.  (A wire whisk makes mixing very easy.)
3)  Add the Essential Oils if desired.  (If you are making this for purely budget reasons, you may want to skip the essential oils.  It smells great without them.  They are just a fun bonus.)
4)  To make more of less of this soap, just mix ingredients sticking to the same general ratio of 4 parts baking soda, 3 parts borax, 2 parts grated soap.   This recipe yields enough to do aprox 144 loads in an HE machine and 35 loads in a regular machine.  I suggest that you make a small batch at first to try it.  THEN, later, when you see how much you love it, make enough to last a year.  

To use:
Use 1/2 cup for Regular Machines for regular soiled loads.  For heavy soiled loads, you can up this to 1 cup. 
Use 1 Tbsp for HE Machines for regular soiled loads.  For heavy soiled loads, you can up this to 1/4 cup.

For a printable version of these ingredients and directions, click here.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Reading Around the World: Studying World Cultures & Geography with Litterature

This year one of our main themes has been an introduction to the great world we live in.  My goal was to gently introduce to the kids to some other cultures while at the same time teaching them some very basic world geography.   I have been using a combination of Sonlight and FIAR to teach this as well as a sprinkling of some of other great books.

This year we have been going through the Sonlight P4/5 program which gives preschoolers a great introduction to our world through the use of literature.  We are loving the program, and I highly recommend it.   We are also big fans of the Five in a Row (FIAR) books, so we have incorporated those into our day too.
The existing P4/5 schedule is great as is.  However, I have modified it slightly for our use, and I wanted to share how we are using the program.   What I have done is to pull out all of the wonderful world culture stories in the Sonlight P4/5 program and grouped them by geographic region.  This gives us time to fully immerse ourselves in the various cultures we are studying.  So instead of skipping all around the globe, we get to spend a few weeks completely devoted to one culture/region.  This gives us time to do all sorts of fun things together as a family.  We might prepare and taste some traditional foods from the part of the world we are studying.  Sometimes we might do a craft project together using inspiration from artists who live in that part of the world.  Or, at other times, we might take a few days to learn some phrases from the language spoken in that part of the world.  Basically---it gives us the time to really let all of those cultures sync in as we "read around the globe".  I have also found that organizing the stories this way allows my very young children to really grasp the differences in cultures and people groups that can be found around the world.  When we were jumping all around the globe, this didn't sync in as much. 

In case anyone else is interested in reading around the world, I wanted to share our list of stories.  You will notice that we have included a lot of other books besides those included in the Sonlight P4/5 program.  Many of them are used in the Five in a Row program (another favorite of mine)...others are just good books that you can check out from your library.

How to use this study:
1.  Read through the stories at your own pace.  Use the sheet provided as a checklist to track your progress.
2.  As you are reading, feel free to weave in some craft projects, music, language activities, recipes, or hands-on projects into your study.  Do this as you have the time or your children are interested.

A NOTE ON PACING:  Included in this list are 166 readings.  That may seem like a huge amount, but I have found that this is a good number to fill up a typical school year of 180 days.   I personally make it a goal to read about a story per day.  With holidays and other interruptions, this usually works out pretty well.  Some days we read more, some days less.  I always suggest reading as your children are interested and going at their own pace. 

Book List for this study:
Around the World in 80 Tales, by Saviour Pirotta, Illustrated by Richard Johnson
Usborne Stories from Around the World, Retold by Heather Amery, Illustrated by Linda Edwards *
The Lion Storyteller Bedtime Book, by Bob Hartman and Krisztina Kallai Nagy *
Antarctic Antics: A Book of Penguin Poems by Judy Sierra
New Toes for Tia by Larry Dinkins *
The Gods Must Be Angry by Sheila Miller and Ian Murray *
Stories from Africa, Written by SIM missionaries *
Very Last First Time, by Jan Andrews **
A New Coat for Anna, by Harriet Ziefert **
Papa Piccolo by Carol Tally **
Another Celebrated Dancing Bear by Gladys Scheffrin-Falk **
Grandfather’s Journey by Allen Say **
The Glorious Flight by Alice and Martin Provensen (France and English Channel) **
How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman **
Giraffe That Walked to Paris by Nancy Milton **
Mirette on the High Wire by Emily Arnold McCully **
A Pair of Red Clogs by Masako Matsuno **
Wee Gillis by Munro Leaf **
The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf * **
The Story of Ping by Marjorie Flack *, **
The Clown of God by Tomie dePaola **
Mr. Gumpy’s Motor Car by John Burningham **

* A Sonlight book
** A FIAR Book

General World Geography Books to Use for Reference:
Global Art:  Activities, Projects, and Inventions from Around the World by MaryAnn Kohl-
This is a great book to own, but most libraries will also have a copy of this that you can check out.  There are lot of great projects that you can use at your discretion as you study the various cultures and countries.   The projects are all rated by degree of skill...and I have found that many of the lowest rated projects are very appropriate for four and five year old children.

Children Just Like Me:  A Unique Celebration of Children Around the World by Anabel Kindersley
This is a great book for showing traditional clothing that other children wear around the world.  This is also a fairly common book and most libraries will have a copy of this. 

A Child's Introduction to the World Geography, Cultures, and People - From the Grand Canyon to the Great Wall of China by Heather Alexander
I am a big fan of the "Child's Introduction" series of books.    So when a fellow sonligher recommended this book I was anxious to check it out.  Our library didn't have a copy of it, so I had to bite the bullet and purchase it.  I am glad I did.  This is a great reference book with tons of ideas to incorporate into your study of the world.  This book will really grow with the child and you will probably find you are using it for years to come. 

Also, try to get your hands on a nicely illustrated multi-cultural cookbook made just for kids.  I would suggest hitting your local library and searching for a book there.  There are many, many great versions of these types of books out there.   If that is not possible, here are some to consider:
Kids Around the World Cook!:  The Best Foods and Recipes from Many Lands by Arlette N. Braman
Around the World Cookbook by Abigail Johnson Dodge

Another good resource to check out is some traditional music from the culture you are reading about.   This is another resource that I would utilize the library for if at all possible.   I highly recommend the  
Putumayo Presents Series of world music CDs.  Another great resource is the Wee Sing Around the World CD.

 Another resource is the continent song. We started off our study by learning the 7 continents on the globe.  At first the kids just memorized the words to this song, however, eventually, they learned to start locating the continents on the globe.  After you get the continents down, make it a goal to learn the various oceans.


Blog Template by